V/H/S breakout star Hannah Fierman is returning to her “Amateur Night” role in SiREN, our non-found-footage spinoff directed by Gregg Bishop (Dance of the Dead, The Other Side, VHS: Viral).
Now in limited theaters with a VOD, Digital HD and DVD date set for December 6, 2016 through Chiller Films, SiREN follows Jonah (Chase Williamson; The Guest, John Dies at the End, Beyond the Gates), an apprehensive groom-to-be whose bachelor party turns into a nightmare when he frees a seemingly innocent victimized girl (Fierman) locked up in a supernatural sex club.
Before Bishop to the helm of this V/H/S spinoff for us, he was already part of the family having directed “Dante the Great” for V/H/S Viral. He talks a bit about the transition to making a feature, based on a short, and not doing found footage.
“I was excited about the cinematic possibilities with this character once she (Lily) was unshackled from the chains of the found footage format. I felt the traditional narrative style allowed us to really open up the story in a fun, terrifying way.”
David Bruckner’s “Amateur Night” is one of the most beloved V/H/S stories, but that didn’t scare away Bishop from taking on the massive task. In fact, he was more amped up than nervous:
“I was more excited than nervous because Bruckner was on board as a producer and was very involved in the development of the script and the making of the movie,” Bishop tells us. “He even did me a solid and directed 2nd unit for a couple of scenes (he’s now ruined me for all 2nd unit directors in the future, by the way). We had a wonderful collaboration and I learned a lot from him.
“The main reason I jumped on board was that the writers (Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski) wrote a great script,” he continued. “It’s suspenseful and unpredictable, with characters you care about. On the surface, the film is a fun, thrilling monster movie… a dark rollercoaster ride. But more on a foundation level, SiREN is a relatable human story that deals with the anxieties of commitment and fears of losing one’s freedom.
“The only real fears I had was that our ambitions for what we wanted the movie to be would far exceed the tight budget and time restraints placed on us.”
Bishop also talks a bit about the goal with SiREN to be both different than V/H/S but also make fans of the franchise happy.
“While both the feature and the short can co-exist in the same universe, the feature is more “inspired by” the short. None of us wanted to just go re-make ‘Amateur Night’, we all wanted to take it in a new direction and do something more expansive and original.
“I was brought on after David Bruckner had developed several drafts of the script with writers Ben Collins & Luke Piotrowski. By design, the characters in the short film were a bunch of jackasses who got what they deserved. With SiREN, it was important to all us to empathize with our heroes for the duration of the movie and pull for them to survive.
“Also, the short is built around that one great, terrifying surprise that the girl is actually a monster. Now that the cat is out of the bag, what that does for the feature is adds SUSPENSE every time Lily is on screen in human form. Because the audience knows what she is but the characters don’t. You know she could lash out at any moment and eat everyone in the room.
“While the movie was shot in a traditional narrative style, I did take cues from ‘Amateur Night’ by shooting most of the coverage of Lily in our hero’s point-of-view versus an over-the-shoulder shot. There was just something intimate and unnerving about Hannah Fierman as Lily looking directly at the camera and into the audience’s eyes.“
Speaking of the great Hannah Fierman, who plays Lily (the “I like you” girl) in both V/H/S‘ “Amateur Night” and SiREN, Bishop explains how he furthered her story.
“There were always questions about what Lily actually was after seeing ‘V/H/S’… was she a harpy? A succubus? Bruckner told me that to him, she was always her own entity. But when the writers brought the idea of the siren song to him, he felt it spoke more clearly to what she was and we felt it really worked for the feature story.
“The monster movie is my favorite sub-genre. With Lily, we have a wonderful misunderstood monster in the vein of Frankenstein or King Kong. You don’t blame a shark when it eats a human, it’s just its nature. We knew right off the bat that we didn’t want to over-explain her or get too far into her backstory, because then you’re in a midi-chlorian situation and nobody wants that.
“Hannah Fierman [is] absolutely irreplaceable. She was the reason that the character was so iconic in the short. We had to jump in and shoot this movie very fast, and I made it very clear to Hannah right from the beginning that it was her character to own. I told her to never do or say anything you didn’t feel Lily would do or say. We both agreed that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’
“On top of all of that, Hannah is super sweet in real life. We when hung out, she never once ate one of my friends.”
What’s next for Bishop? How about a feature length adaptation of “Dante the Great” from V/H/S Viral?
“I’m in,” Bishop exclaimed.
“I actually get asked that all the time. I’m totally in, but no found footage!
“I’m currently writing an original science fiction thriller and working with the writers of SiREN on a new original horror movie, both of which I plan to direct. There is also a spec script I wrote with Joe Ballarini (who wrote Dance of the Dead) that we sold to Sony Pictures called LOCKDOWN AT FRANKLIN HIGH. It’s a monster movie set in a high-school and Michael Bay is producing.”
Bishop is also the director behind the phenomenal indie The Other Side, as well as the ultra fun Dance of the Dead.